Scene 1: barroom, Virginia City, Montana 1864
He’s been told to quiet his sips, but Slade’s
ears hear advice through whiskey neat.
And these are not pleasant times for incautious men;
the rabble, that tool of righteous or not, is roused
and dangles rope from barn beams and dances
a glee while fuller men dance on air.
Aye, and darted, darting tongues of lessers
quarry less than truth and hit less than that.
Best a man sidle eyes askance
in alleyways; and yet Slade will sing
gin versions to make hangmen mad.
No preacher arms a word better than Edgerton
to cock his ambition
Or aims a truer false
to make almost honest men empty
and puppet, a dangle on a string.
From the Play (in progress) The True Story of an Almost Bad Man. Jack Slade was caught up as victim of the Montana Vigilantes mostly because when he had the drink in him he was a loud mouth who offended certain dignities who at that time showed their indignation by hanging people.